Locked In

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” – John 20: 19 –20

This passage has a sense of mystery as well as joy.  The disciples were hiding.  They had locked themselves in.  Jesus showed up without a key.  He presented evidence of suffering.  The disciples were overjoyed.

The gospels are often so concise that they scare us.  The narrative structure goes from the simple to the even more simple.   The turn from fear to joy is quick.  There is no hemming and hawing or throat clearing.  Startling simplicity is their hallmark.  Where first we think everything is going to hell, heaven takes over.  How Jesus got in we will never know.  We just know that he did. Why we lock ourselves in so often – either literally or figuratively – we will never know.  There are plenty of leaders to be afraid of, that’s for sure.  But locking ourselves in will likely not protect us from them.  Don’t they kind of have a victory by making us lock ourselves in?

Here is another mystery.  How do so many undocumented people get up every morning and go to work, rather than stay at home locked in a darkened room?  Have some of them had a glimpse of Jesus’ hands and sides and learned not to be afraid of unscrupulous leaders?

I think so.


When we are tempted to lock ourselves in, free us, O God, for suffering and also for joy.

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.